Archive for June, 2009

Looking for the Next Barack? Yeah, right.

Some of you may have seen Jenee Desmond Harris’ piece in the Root last week. In it, she says that perhaps Black women can learn from Michelle Obama by letting go of our shallow “requirements”: a college degree (or two), a house, a “good” job (think Capitol Hill or a Consulting firm), and yes, “swagger.”

But now there’s a follow up from a male perspective. This week, David Swerdlick’s piece entitled “What Women Can’t Learn from Michelle” really sparked my attention:

You can’t argue with Jenée’s thesis: her coterie of pedigreed, upwardly mobile black women have to dig deeper for unseen potential if they’re looking for “Mr. Right.”

But if Barack Obama Part Deux is what it’s going to take to satisfy them, then her advice is going to leave a lot of women single as hell.

Personally, I blame Dwayne Wayne. Those endless reruns of your favorite episodes of A Different World get y’all completely twisted when it comes to evaluating a potential mate. But that’s beside the point. Here are a few tips to straighten things out:

Stop comparing regular guys to Barack Obama.

I can only speak for myself—I’m biracial, went to some pretty decent schools and spent most of my 20s in a cramped bachelor pad—but that’s where the comparisons to Barack Obama end. There’s nothing cool or Kravitz-esque to see here—I’m the other kind of mixed guy, in need of a tan and a fade. Picture Benjamin Jealous after six weeks on Survivor.

He had me at hello.

So many women–especially in DC–are on a mission for their Barack Obama. Now I know this goes against my past views about this topic, and I have to say that after much thought, I think that perhaps the “find your next Barack Obama” meme is over the top and, in a word, a little silly. There is only one woman for Barack Obama, and that’s Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama.

But beyond that, I think what what Swerdlick is getting at is that many women look at the wrong things: we are looking for some inkling of Presidential Swagger that may not be there because, well, the guy you’re peeping at the happy hour is not the President at all. And he may never be President. Sad, but true.

Stop looking at his checkbook and start updating your playbook.

Just because a man can “afford” to pay for $15 apple martinis doesn’t mean he wants to. Sometimes the guy buying rounds of shots is on his third bankruptcy, and the guy drinking $2 Miller Lights owns three rental properties.

We’ll do what we have to do to get your phone number, but in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a recession going on. If you start sizing up a man for all he’s worth right now, you’re letting him know up front that if things get too far, he’s on the hook for a three-karat rock and a mortgage on a beach house in Oak Bluffs. And if he knows that already, he might flee.

….and this isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate a man paying when we go out, but I’ll take a taco dinner at Taqueria D.F. just as happily as I would a gourmet affair at 1789. Maybe it’s the California girl in me.  It’s not the price of the time you spent. It’s about the person and how happy you are with him or her.

But I wanna know who these women keeping score based on a man’s salary are…do I know them? Are we friends? …but I digress.

And then, Swerdlick gives us one last word of advice:

Start dating white, Asian and Latino men.

And while we’re on the subject, how about trying Something New?

Not into white guys? That’s too bad because I’d be willing to bet that Bill Clinton has dated more black women than Barack Obama.

Black women hoping for a monopoly on black men have to realize that they’re like General Motors in a Toyota world—either develop your own hybrid technology or prepare to go out of business.

The bottom line: Single women should avoid using Barack Obama’s résumé as a job description for a position they’re trying to fill or treating their next boyfriend like a prospective applicant.

I’ve never been a woman who claimed to only date one race or another.  It would make sense to me, especially in 2009, that it’s okay to date outside of your race. So go ahead–holler at the token White guy (or girl) at The Park next Thursday 🙂

At this point in my life, I’ve dated lots of different guys–plenty of guys with good jobs and degrees from the “right schools”, plenty of boyfriends with “swagga”–and none of it really matters. What matters is that a man treats me with respect and love–and yeah, that he makes me laugh–among other thngs.

The rest is just plastic. It’s not about being in a power couple. It’s about being with someone who loves you for you. And well, shouldn’t we do the same for our mate?

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Why not call it terrorism?

There was a fatal shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC this afternoon. According to the New York Times, the shooter is an 88 year old white supremacist:

The gunman was identified by law enforcement officials as James W. von Brunn, who embraces various conspiracy theories involving Jews, blacks andother minority groups and at one point waged a personal war with the federal government.

The gunman and the security guard were both taken to nearby George Washington University Hospital, with Mr. von Brunn handcuffed to a gurney, witnesses said. The guard, Stephen T. Johns, died a short time later. Museum officials said he had worked there for six years; The Associated Press reported his age as 39.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization based in Alabama, said Wednesday that Mr. von Brunn is a racist and anti-Semite with “a long history of associations with prominent neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.”

On Wednesday evening, President Obama issued a statement saying, in part, “This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms.”

While I am glad President Obama released a statement–as did the founders of the Simon Weisenthal Center –I am still wondering why we still can’t call acts like these acts of terrorism.  On Twitter, a reason given was that perhaps the face of terrorism will always be a brown face–and perhaps America is not ready to deal with the idea of a white male being a terrorist.

Or perhaps it’s the fact that we aren’t ready for the idea of Christian terrorism? I took a class once where the professor explained that lynching of African Americans in the 19th century were acts of White Christian terrorism, no different from the 9/11 attacks. It surprised me how many students–black and white–disagreed.

In any case, it’s a terrible strategy. The only thing I can hope for is that people really begin to label James von Brunn as the terrorist he is, and to start thinking more about how we define and talk about hate crimes in our country.

We Can Do Better

Today I am taking part in a blog-a-thon against hate. It’s been a week since the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was a target of many extreme pro-life groups and had feared for his life because, alongside health care and contraceptives, he also provided women and girls with a choice to have an abortion.

I am most upset at how Tiller was murdered–in front of his friends and family in his church, and in the name of God. Dr. Tiller was a target of many Christian pro-life extremists, and his death is a clear act of domestic terrorism. Murder suspect Scott Roeder has stated that he killed Tiller because he provided women with abortions, which went against his Christian values. He recently warned that there would be more violence against pro-choice doctors and establishments to come.

But Dr. Tiller was a person of faith, active in his church family, and was also pro-choice. I was raised in the church and I consider myself a progressive Christian as well. I believe in providing girls  women with the choice of having an abortion, especially those who have been raped or are suffering from fetal complications; this was the case with many of Tiller’s patientsMany evangelicals would argue that you cannot be a Christian and be pro-choice. I beg to differ. I doubt that the God I serve would condemn me for believing that every woman and girl has a right to quality health care and access to affordable contraceptives. I doubt that the God I serve would condemn me for believing that young people need and want comprehensive sex education so that unwanted pregnancies and STDs are reduced.

Aside from the irony of being a pro-life murderer, killing anyone because of a difference in opinion , values, or religion is completely against the Christian principle of love. How can we love our neighbor when there are those among us who will kill a man for being pro-choice? Where in the Bible does it say that violence is a way to “teach sinners a lesson”? In this time of Lou Engle’s call for “Christian martyrdom”,  there needs to be a real effort to connect how issues like choice and access to women’s health care are in line with being a servant to God. Or, perhaps we need to remember the words of Jesus Christ:  “Let he who is without sin cast first stone” (John 8:7).

Things of Note

Starting this week I will be posting interesting links from around the blogosphere:

  • Oklahoma Women’s Network speak out about Sotomayor cartoon published in Oklahoman and why it’s sexist..I particularly take issue with the image of Sotomayor hanging as a pinata…among other things. More on this later.
  • Cheryl Contee at Jack and Jill Politics gives her thoughts on Obama’s Cairo Speech…which is on Youtube in case ya missed it.
  • Renee at Womanist Musings talks about disability and motherhood…
  • Alyssa at Voz Latina is asking for donations to build a new home–the house that her and her partner live in is foreclosing in a few days’ time. Make a donation and help support trans homesteaders.
  • And finally, some lolz. What if your coworker used AutoTune, T-Pain style?